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Kansas People Who Made a Difference - September 9, 2016

Petey Cerf, Audio-Reader's founder. Former KANU General Manager Dick Wright, host of the Jazz Scene, holds a microphone.  (Photo Courtesy of Audio-Reader)

Q: In the mid-1960s, a Lawrence woman was reading to a friend in a nursing home when she became inspired. She wondered if there was a way to bring the spoken word to more people who had trouble reading printed material. This woman's vision became a reality in 1971 when the Kansas Audio-Reader Network went live on the air, serving the blind and visually-impaired. What's the name of this visionary woman who launched Audio-Reader?

A: (Anna) Petey Cerf
More than anyone else, Lawrence philanthropist Petey Cerf is credited with starting the Kansas Audio-Reader Network. In the mid-1960s, Petey Cerf was reading to a friend in a nursing home when she wondered: is there a way to bring the spoken word to even more people who have trouble reading the printed word?  
Cerf visited the nation's first radio reading service in Minnesota, came back to Lawrence and started working on her own radio reading service for Kansas. By October of 1971, her dream became a reality when Audio-Reader went live on the air, serving the blind and visually-impaired.  
Now in its 45th year, Audio-Reader serves more than 8,000 users over the air, through the Internet and over the phone through Telephone Reader. The free service is made possible by a small staff and more than 400 volunteers who read more than 100 big and small town newspapers, books, magazines and more 24 hours a day. Learn more at  
Today (Friday, Sept. 9, 2016) and tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 10), Audio-Reader is holding its annual fundraiser, For Your Ears Only, where thousands of donated records, CDs, musical instruments and hundreds of pieces of modern and vintage audio equipment go on sale (at rock-bottom prices) at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.

Extra Factoid: Petey Cerf's good works didn't begin and end with Audio-Reader. She also had a hand in efforts to improve elder care via the organization Kansas Advocates for Better Care.

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